From Limbo to Liberation
We all have one
hiding over there in the groan zone. It’s the unfinished project
that lives in a strange sort of limbo. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb
reminds us in The Black Swan, the longer a project goes
unfinished, there is an exponential increase in the time to finish
the project. Sound familiar?
So, you see them
lurking there getting dusty and forlorn, what should you do about
them? How can you move these projects from limbo to liberation (aka
completion)? Here’s my Project Liberation Check List:
Look at all your unfinished projects. Which ones are still relevant? What’s important,
and what no longer matters?
What can be recycled?
Those projects that have expired or no longer matter can
still be useful. Look at them, and see if any of the project assets
can be reused somewhere else. For example, were there any lessons
learned that you can reapply? Why did these projects stall, and
what put them on the back burner, and could you have prevented it?
Also, go through your documentation, and pull out any golden nuggets
such as charts or research or any data you can build on.
Choose the projects you’re going to finish.
Once you’ve chosen the projects you are going to finish, then you’re
going to reboot them – just like your overworked computer. However,
this reboot is different from all the others, because you are going
to finish this project in three months. Three is a magic number
here. Why? Because in three months so much changes.
Project Reboot, here are things you need to look at and probably
Key questions to
any of the technology that’s important to this project changed?
Are you sure? Talk to your best friends in IT, and consult with
them to make sure.
strategic direction of the organization changed? Is there new
management, a merger or acquisition, or any new threats or
opportunities? While this project was in limbo, did any key
things in the environment change? This is important because if
you lob the project back out there without considering the
changes, it will flounder again.
Rally the troops around this liberation.
It’s important to get your team excited and let them know you’re
clearing the decks of the old projects so your team can focus on
the projects that are most important.
Why do we care
about those projects in limbo? Because a bunch of unfinished
projects suck the lifeblood out of organizations and keep us from
moving forward. For the Project Manager, unfinished projects are
our nemesis. We need to tackle them, evaluate them, recycle their
assets or finish them.
And just like life,
when you look back, what is the difference between success and
failure? It’s often crossing the finish line. See you there. I’ll
be the one cheering loudly.
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